As we've entered the month of December, work on my BN1 is at an all time high!
The guys up at Jetstream Auto and Custom have been making great progress with the metal work. In fact when you step into their metal fab shop now, you'll see not just one but four Healey's all on rotisseries getting the same expert treatment...
Here's a few pics of the progress on mine, there's still lots of careful hammer & dolly work ahead to work out all the dents on the outer body panels, but much has been done already as you can see -
The new front cross member is in, and both foot boxes have been restored,
- if you remember these foot boxes had been hacked open and then screwed back together - probably to make room for a larger engine at some point.
The inner and outer sills have all been repaired and replaced as well as the lower sections of the door posts, and the lower sections of the front and rear fenders.
Everything fits and lines up beautifully thanks to the expert workmanship by Jetstream!
As mentioned before, this right side especially had quite a lot of dents and damage to be worked out mostly by hammer and dolly - but it's already looking much better!
It's tricky working the bigger dents out of the steel fenders because of the inevitable stretching that's occurred and needs to be shrunk back.
In the meantime, the guys up at Mid Island Machine have been restoring my head and engine block. They've re-sleeved the cylinders to bring it back to original spec. so I've ordered a new set of original spec pistons.
The crankshaft has been all re-ground .020" under, so I'll get new .020 over bearings to suit. I ordered these components from our Healey specialist friends at Autofarm in Ontario.
The head has all new hardened valve seats, new valve guides, and all new valves.
Of course the head and block joint will be made perfectly flat and smooth again too.
It will be virtually a brand new engine when it's all done!
Tom Munro has been working away on my BN1 gearbox rebuild.
I was very lucky to have been able to buy a second set of gearbox parts from Trevor that was in much better shape than mine was.
What we quickly realized though is there are essentially 2 different sets of BN1 gears over the years (early and late) The gears are very similar in appearance but are cut at slightly different angles and will only work with gears of the same generation/angle.
So inevitably I've replaced all of my early style gears with the later style ones.
Michael Salter illustrated these differences beautifully in this blog article from a few yrs ago:
While Tom has been sorting out the gearbox, he sent me home with all its hardware to be re-plated. For this I decided to try some black phosphate re-finishing.
I used a great article about this process written by my friend Curt Arndt as one of the concours guidelines supplements.
-I first glass-bead blasted all the parts to clean bare steel, and wiped clean each piece with some isopropyl alcohol. Wearing latex gloves so as not to get any oils from my hands on the clean parts!
-I warm the parts up with a heat gun, and then I applied some Super Blue liquid Gun-bluing solution which immediately turns them black. I let them soak in this for about 2min and then dunk them into fresh water to neutralize the acid.
-Then I thoroughly dry them off and give them a healthy coating of fluid film rust protection. Fluid film is an oily/greasy film that never really dries out. It's compatible with oil, won't interfere with electrics, and provides lasting protection against moisture - it's even recommended as an invisible vehicle undercoating.
Curt's article recommends using white lithium grease instead of the Fluid-Film but I decided to try the Fluid-Film first because I was impressed with its performance in my last restoration. Time will tell how it stands up in this application -
There will be many more pieces of hardware to be finished in this black phosphate, as early Healey's especially used this finish on much of the undercarriage hardware.
On Friday last week I went and picked up all my fresh new chrome pieces from Electroshine Plating in Sydney. As usual they did an outstanding job with everything and it felt like Christmas unwrapping all the individually wrapped parts from the newspaper wrappings..
One curious detail I've noted is the different style of number stamping on my original windshield posts - normally they're seen with numbers stamped on the front flat face - visible when the windshield is lowered...
But mine is blank in that spot, and instead has numbers stamped on the underside - visible only in the door opening. - Anyone else run into this style?
There's lots of exciting work ahead as I expect to be getting my engine back from the machine shop soon and my finished gearbox - so stay tuned!
Until next time -
Well it's official and it's already just happened: Over the last 3 weeks I have moved my business Rightway Heritage Trimming into a brand new shop space!
It's a new unit building in Langford (Victoria's western neighbour) right off the Highway #1 - at 2770 Leigh Rd (unit 136).
A friend from the Old English Car Club bought the new unit as an investment opportunity and for some extra car storage.
After meeting me after a presentation I'd made for the car club about my business - he offered me the front half of the building including the entire upper mezzanine and shared space downstairs for 2 of my/or my customers vehicles.
Given the much better location and proper amenities I was lacking in my old shop - like heat, and a bathroom - I jumped at the opportunity!
After reading and signing the contract, sorting out my new license and insurance for the space, I first got to work on preparing the upper mezzanine for my business...
The mezzanine had been finished with industrial carpet tile which is not really conducive to the dust and carpet fibers I create in my line of work.
So I decided to float a new laminate floor right over top of it - using the stiff carpet as an underlay. That way it will be easy to sweep and keep clean.
So I borrowed a chop saw from my friend Bill, and installed the floor one morning with my friend Bryce.
The next thing I needed was a proper 8 foot cutting table that I could also use for laying out and cutting materials & for material storage underneath.
I drew up a simple design and built the table in an afternoon. I built a shelf and arranged all my car books and material sample catalogues along the one side as you enter the room from downstairs...
With all my rolls of materials stored under it, and good lighting right above it, it's made a very functional and organized work table - big enough to easily lay out a full hide of leather for marking and cutting jobs...
The next pieces I added were a proper steel cabinet for all my paint and chemical storage...
and then another 8 foot work bench which I made using 2 second hand drawer sets I found at the Re-Store. I just added a 3/4" plywood top to join them together and finished it off with a nice aluminum edge finisher along the front leading edge of the bench...
I moved in all my tools and supplies, hung some peg board racks for hanging tools, my Grandfathers beautiful hand crafted tool boxes and some sets of plastic drawers for all my fastener hardware, and voila! - another very organized and functional work space...
I finished the up stairs production area by arranging my wood cutting area with a bandsaw, table saw, drill press, air compressor, vacuum and mini sandblast cabinet...
And of course my big sewing table, complete with more drawers for supplies, and pegboard racks for my tools...
Of course I hung up all my hundreds of patterns along the one wall and added several banks of steel shelving for customer jobs and material storage...
Downstairs as you enter the building I moved in my old 8' work bench I had built years ago in my first shop - I refinished the top of it with some leftover flooring and added some shelving for storing all of my Healey parts. This is the bench I will employ when working on customer cars...
I wanted to make this entrance area especially appealing for customers, so I also added my glass display cabinets full of all my model cars and pics of my upholstery work on display...
Here's my first new customer car in the new space - an Austin Healey in for a tonneau cover and door panel repairs, this car has come all the way from New Brunswick! having driven to the Conclave in Deadwood this summer and then on down to California - it's going to spend the winter here on the island before making its return trip east next summer...
Of course a few more display cabinets leading back into the main shop area, past the bathroom...
The main area in the back of the shop is being shared by a few guys storing and working on their cars. Eventually my Healey will fit back where the tables and chairs are on the right.
The front area leading back from the main door is where my customers cars will park and be worked on..
In preparation for street advertising on the front of the building, I'm having a few of these window decals made for the front door and the upper mezzanine windows facing out to the street...
I also made a few new posters for to brighten up the walls inside...
mind the colours - these are tiny screen shots from the Vistaprint website, where I designed and ordered these from...
With the move into the new space complete just in time December, I'm very happy and grateful to have lots of new work rolling in.
The bright new space is warm and delightful to work in, I very much look forward to many exciting inspiring years of growth and development ahead.
Until next time -
I've been plugging away on rebuilding various components for the BN1, last week I got together with my good friend Trevor Parker to help me rebuild my king pins.
I had already purchased all new king pins kits with new bushings & seals, so it was just a case of pressing out the old bushings, pressing in the new ones and reaming them by hand to be a perfect fit to the new king pins.
Trevor has the correct reaming tool for these Healey spindle bushings, and a proper table press for removing and installing the bushings so we were able to get it all done without any hiccups. Thanks again Trevor!
Last week saw the arrival of some newly restored goodies that I had been eagerly awaiting.
Curt Arndt from California has supplied me with this beautifully restored horn & trafficator switch for the center of the steering wheel. - Just look at the shine he got on the original Bakelite! - I'll be keeping this jewel carefully packed away until the day I install it in the car!
And of course Curt also sourced and supplied me with this beautifully restored complete BN1 tool kit -
I had already made a correct set of vinyl bags for these tools, so now I'm all set!
I dropped off my starter motor, generator and ignition coil to a local shop here in Victoria called Brian Roberts Auto Electric. They're no strangers to Austin Healey electrical components and were able to go through everything and test or rebuild as necessary. Glad to report that my starter and coil were both in great health and they just rebuilt the old generator.
I gave my starter a fresh paint job, after first cleaning and masking off the aluminum front plate as was done from the factory on BN1's only...
The generator was restored with new field coils, brushes and bearings. I had them fit an earlier style commutator end that I had sourced with the early style of oiler.
When I got it back home I carefully masked and painted the unit, reassembling it with a new pulley, and finished it off with a new phenolic lock plate added to the end terminals, just like the originals had.
I was able to source the phenolic plate from my friend Michael Salter in Ontario.
My friend Tom Munro has been rebuilding my gearbox and overdrive unit.
Unfortunately mine has quite a bit of corrosion damage inside.
Tom had me over the other day to show me the extent of damage... The worst part is that the main outer casing has a small crack inside where the shift actuator shaft enters the lower bushings - both the shaft and the body around the bushing were badly corroded..
As it turns out, the 1st and reverse gears were ok, as was the lay-gear.
However 2nd and 3rd gears were badly corroded as you can see:
Luckily, once again my good friend Trevor Parker was able to sell me a spare gearbox with just about all the parts I'm needing - including the casing and these replacement gears and synchros - Thanks again Trevor, I don't know how I could have done this without you!
I'll also be replacing the friction surfaces inside the overdrive anulous ring, and the accumulator piston rings and spring...
The layshaft is worn, but still usable
I received my new reproduction Lucas 6 volt batteries in the mail, they look identical to the originals with the vents and fill caps, but are a modern battery inside requiring no filling or servicing.
They did not however come with the terminals pre-drilled and tapped for the proper helmets (as was advertised) but that shouldn't be too difficult to do later...
Finally, I just received all my gauges back from Nisonger's instruments in NY.
They did a beautiful job professionally restoring and calibrating each one.
They were able to install a better condition clock face on my old tachometer, and replaced the temperature gauge line, trip-odometer reset knob, and make sure they're all in good working order. They even cleaned up the odometer number wheels which had turned yellow with age...
This entire project has been a culmination of help and support from many friends I've made over the years through the car community. Austin Healey club members especially have often felt like extended family with their shared enthusiasm and support.
Friends like Trevor Parker, who has been my closest local friend throughout this project, helping me with specialized tools, parts, and just coming by to help out whenever I need it.
Michael Salter - who helped me initially buy this car, and has been a valuable source for parts and knowledge.
Curt Arndt who has helped me source some of the hardest and rare pieces to this project and sent me loads of valuable restoration information.
Jason Stoch and the guys up at Jetstream Auto & Custom who have been handling all the metal, body & paint work on the car, as well as some parts I was needing.
Ron Allman, who supplied me with some of my Dad's old Healey blue paint,
Tom Munro who is handling the rebuild of my gearbox and overdrive,
Mid Island Machining who are machining my engine components,
Nisonger's for my gauges,
Brian Roberts Electric for my electrics,
The list goes on and on - Thank you Everyone who has helped me along the way - I am very grateful for the support!
Until next time -
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.